The jade plant is lush, green, and resembles an almost miniature tree with thick leaves and woody stems. Its green oval-shaped leaves resemble a jade stone, which is why it’s referred to as a jade plant.
It’s an extremely popular houseplant and has been alleged to bring an owner good luck.
Let’s take an in-depth look at how to grow a jade plant, care for it, and revive it. Who knows, maybe it’ll bring you some good luck along the way.
This succulent is native to South Africa, in the Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) province and the Eastern Cape. It’s relatively undemanding, easy to grow and care for, and is drought resistant.
The jade plant is known by a few other common names such as the lucky plant and the money tree. In its native country it’s often referred to as pink joy and kerky bush, however, its scientific name is crassula ovata.
It belongs to the Crassulaceae family and is thought of as bringing luck to the owner and the home it’s kept in, making it the perfect housewarming gift.
Not only is it considered lucky but it’s fragrant, and attracts some little friends like honeybees and butterflies.
According to feng shui, it should be placed by your front door in order to welcome money into the home.
How Big Do They Get?
Crassula ovata typically grows up to 3 to 8 feet (1 – 2.5m) tall and 2 to 3 feet (61 – 91cm) wide, if optimally cared for.
How Fast Do They Grow?
The money tree is a relatively slow grower, and it approximately grows about 2 inches (5cm) a year.
How Long Do They Live?
It can be given as a gift and passed down through generations. When shown a good amount of care and love, you can expect it to survive for 70 to 100 years.
Some experts have even been able to cultivate the jade plant for over 100 years.
We’ll discuss the symptoms and what to do if you or your pets ingest the plant or come into contact with its sap.
Are they Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
The sap is highly toxic when dogs or cats ingest it. Your pet may experience gastric distress, abdominal pain, excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. After ingesting any part of the houseplant, your poor pet may even become lethargic or depressed.
Rare symptoms include convulsions, a decreased heart rate, and impaired muscle movement.
Please contact your veterinarian if your pet has ingested any part of the money tree.
The plant is mildly toxic to humans. If you or a child ingests any part of the money tree, you should keep hydrated. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. If one comes into contact with the houseplant’s sap, you may experience mild skin irritation and a rash.
These symptoms are unlikely to be long-lasting, however, if you are concerned, please seek medical advice from your doctor.
When repotting, pruning, or propagating the crassula ovata, remember to wear a pair of gardening gloves.
How to Care
If you want your lucky plant to bloom and grow, you need to adequately care for it. The following care guide will ensure that you grow a thriving, luscious crassula ovata.
How Often to Water
The crassula ovata is drought resistant, so just like with the ponytail palm, ‘when in doubt maybe drought’. Their waxy leaves retain a lot of water, which means that it doesn’t sit well in a moist potting mix. Be cautious as overwatering can be fatal for this houseplant.
During the warmer spring and summer months, you can water it every 2 to 3 weeks. In the autumn and winter months, you can water it less often and keep an eye on the soil.
The most important rule when it comes to watering the crassula ovata is that the top 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) of the potting mix must be dry. The soil has to be dry before you water it again.
When you expose your plant to excessively moist potting mixes, it will cause root rot. This includes its leaves, so make sure that when watering this houseplant, you don’t get its leaves wet.
Additionally, the rootball is sensitive to the chemicals and chlorine in tap water. Your houseplant thrives best in distilled or filtered water.
Quick Tip: If tap water is the only water available to you, leave it in a container overnight, so that the chemicals and salts are evaporated.
Excellent drainage is imperative for the crassula ovata and many other houseplants like the elephant ear. Make use of a well-draining potting mix and the pot must have a drainage hole. Poor drainage will cause severe damage to the rootball and stem.
An addition of perlite, coco coir, or vermiculite will aerate the potting mixture. The potting soil should be airy so that it doesn’t retain too much moisture.
The container your houseplant is planted in must have either one large drainage hole or multiple smaller drainage holes. This prevents the potting mix from becoming waterlogged because any excess water will flow out through the bottom hole.
Try adding a thin layer of gravel or sharp sand at the bottom of your pot, as this will greatly enhance drainage.
Top Tip: A terracotta container will enhance your potting mixture’s ability to dry faster, which prevents the chances of root rot occurring.
Trimming is not necessary for your houseplant to thrive and survive, but it can be done to improve its appearance or remove any dead foliage.
If you are going to prune the crassula ovata, it’s best to do so in the spring and summer months, and only once it’s at least 1 year old.
You can prune your houseplant so that it has a more bonsai look, or even cut back any shriveled or drooping stems and leaves. Trimming back drooping stems is great if you want to encourage more robust growth.
When trimming it, always use a sterilized blade that has been wiped down with either a diluted bleach solution or a rubbing alcohol mix.
Crassula ovata’s flourish when kept snug in a pot, it prefers to be slightly pot bound. A young houseplant should be repotted every 2 to 3 years, and a more mature one should be repotted around every 4 to 5 years.
You’ll know repotting is necessary when the roots begin to grow out through the drainage hole.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to repotting your crassula ovata:
- The soil must be dry before repotting it.
- Remove the houseplant by sliding a knife along the pot’s perimeter to loosen the soil.
- Slide the houseplant out, and gently remove any excess soil around the rootball. If you notice any damaged or shriveled roots, just cut those back with a sterilized pair of scissors.
- Take out a new pot that’s no more than 2 inches (5cm) wider than the rootball. Fill this container one-third of the way with moist potting soil.
- Place the rootball 1 inch (2.5cm) below the rim of the pot, and cover it with soil.
- Water it until the water flows through the drainage hole.
- Finally, place your houseplant back in its original home where it’ll be basking in bright, indirect sunlight. Care for it as you normally would.
Top Tip: Repot your crassula ovata during the spring when new growth begins to spurt.
Just like the devil’s ivy, the crassula ovata loves bright, indirect sunshine. It absolutely thrives in sunlight, and it’s a large determining factor for whether or not your plant will survive and bloom.
Be cautious that it isn’t placed in direct sunlight, as its leaves will become sunburnt and scorched.
Jade plants require a dry potting mixture that is sufficiently aerated and light. This houseplant prospers in slightly acidic, airy soil that allows for great drainage.
The addition of sharp sand, perlite, coco coir, and vermiculite in a regular potting mix will improve the drainage and aeration of the soil. A commercial succulent or cactus potting mix is great too.
The money tree prefers a balanced 20-20-20 water-soluble liquid fertilizer that has been diluted to half its strength. A stronger fertilizer will cause a build-up of salts in the soil and a fertilizer overdose.
It’s fed once every 1 to 2 months during its active growing seasons in spring and summer.
When the plant is more dormant during the cold winter and autumn months, reduce your feeding schedule to every 3 or 4 months.
Pot Size and Type
We previously mentioned that this houseplant prefers to be snug in its pot. The container should be around 1 to 2 inches (2.5cm – 5cm) wider than the rootball’s diameter.
The most important aspect of any pot is that it must have a drainage hole. An ideal pot is either a terracotta or clay one. They allow for better drainage and prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.
The money tree is native to a warm region, so it prefers temperatures between 65 to 75°F (18 – 24°C) during the day, while at night it can survive a cooler 55°F (13°C).
It is not frost tolerant, and will not be able to survive prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50°F (10°C).
Jade plants are not too fussy when it comes to humidity. The average household humidity level is suitable.
Additionally, one should make sure that their household humidity level isn’t too high as your plant may develop root rot.
Outdoors vs. Indoors
This hardy succulent can survive in USDA hardiness zones of 11 to 12, exactly like the croton plant. It can survive the outdoor summer heat and sun, but it must still be placed in indirect light, or else you risk scorching the leaves.
During the cooler winter months, it has to be kept indoors as the houseplant isn’t frost tolerant. The jade plant is commonly kept indoors as the environmental requirements can be controlled, and most regions are too cool for it to survive.
Do They Bloom?
In winter or early spring, you can expect some stunning starry flowers. It is not common for jade houseplants to bloom because they often don’t receive enough sunlight. Sunshine is the key to flowering.
When it does bloom, you’ll notice small flower buds covered with pink sepals, which then open up. It blooms 2 or 3 clusters of white or pink star-shaped flowers.
Crassula ovata’s are easily propagated from division, stem cuttings, leaflets, and even from seed. It can be grown and multiplied in soil or water.
It’s important to note that the money tree should only be propagated in the summertime.
From Dividing and Splitting
- Remove your houseplant by carefully sliding it out. Use a blunt knife and run it around the pot’s perimeter to loosen the soil.
- Gently remove the excess soil around the rootball with your hands.
- Use a sharp, clean blade to cut downwards between the bundles and rootball to separate the connecting stem or roots.
- Pull the bundles apart to separate the different divisions.
- Prepare a new container with a drainage hole by filling one-third of it with a dry potting mixture. Keep in mind that the width of the new pot must be no more than 2 inches (5cm) wider than the rootball.
- Place more soil on top of the rootball and adjust it so that it’s roughly 1 inch (2.5cm) below the container’s rim.
- Water your new plants thoroughly, until it flows out the drainage hole, and place the houseplants in a bright, sunny home.
From Stem Cuttings
- Use a pair of clean shears to cut a healthy 2 or 3 inch (5 – 7.6cm) long stem, and place it in a warm area for 3 days. This will allow the cut area to be calloused over which encourages rooting and prevents root rot.
- Get out a new pot and fill it with moist, well-draining soil. Try combining 1 part potting mix and 1 part perlite or vermiculite.
- Dip the stem cutting in rooting hormone before planting it.
- Plant the stem 1 inch (2.5cm) deep in the soil, and prop it up with a pebble or stone if it keeps falling down.
- Position the container in warm, indirect light.
- After 1 or 2 weeks the stem will send out roots. In another week you should gently tug at the stem to test whether it’s rooted.
- Water it once the stem has firmly rooted, and care for it as you would a mature jade plant.
From Leaf Cuttings
- Use a sterilized pair of scissors and cut a leaf as close to the main stem as possible. Ideally, you want a little stem attached to the leaf. Just like one would with a stem cutting, allow the leaf-cutting to callous over in a warm room for 3 days.
- Prepare a pot with moist, well-draining soil. You can try mixing 1 part potting soil and 1 part perlite or vermiculite.
- Dip the leaflet in some rooting hormone, and lay it on top of the soil.
- Cover the stem of the leaf with some soil, and find an area where it’ll take in ample amounts of indirect light.
- In a month it should be firmly rooted in the pot.
- Find a 4-inch wide container with a drainage hole, and fill it with a moist potting mixture.
- Place 3 seeds, each 1 inch (2.5cm) apart, in the center of the pot.
- Water the seeds once a week so that the top 1 inch (2.5cm) of the soil is moist.
- Cover up the container with clear plastic and poke a few holes through the plastic. This will allow for the retention of moisture while letting in some oxygen.
- You should repot your little seedlings once 3 leaves have grown.
Propagating the jade plant in water isn’t a popular method of propagation as it’s not as successful as soil propagation, however, it is possible.
From Stem Cuttings
- Look for a healthy stem, and cut about 2 or 3 inches (5 – 7.6cm) of it. Place it in a warm room for 3 days, so that it can be calloused over.
- Fill a clean, clear glass with room temperature water. The water should be changed once a week.
- Place the stem in the water but remove any leaves that may become submerged.
- Find a sunny windowsill for the glass, so your stem can receive plenty of indirect light.
- Keep an eye on the stem and once it has developed an adequate amount of roots, then repot it in soil.
Your crassula ovata may encounter a few issues, most of which are caused by either overwatering or it may receive an inadequate amount of sunlight. We’ll let you know what to look out for and most importantly how to revive your houseplant back to health.
Why Are the Leaves Dropping Off?
If you’ve noticed your money tree’s leaves falling off, then it may be either overwatered or placed in a cold area.
To prevent overwatering, always make sure that the soil is dry in between watering. The saucer beneath the drainage hole must be emptied to prevent your jade plant from sitting in soggy conditions. Cut back the dead leaves and adjust your watering schedule.
If the leaves are droopy, your houseplant’s home is too cold. Place it on a windowsill where it’ll receive ample amounts of indirect sunlight and make sure your home isn’t too cool.
What’s Causing the Leaves to Wrinkle?
When your crassula ovata leaves shrivel and wrinkle, it means that it’s either not being watered enough or your houseplant is experiencing root rot. To tell which problem it’s facing, simply feel the soil.
If the soil is dry, then it’s being underwatered. One must deeply water the houseplant until the water drains out. In about a week or so, the plant should perk up.
If the soil is moist and the stem is mushy, then your plant’s roots are rotten. Follow the advice given below to treat your plant.
How to Treat Root Rot
Root rot is caused by excessive overwatering. The roots and stems become mushy and may even turn brown or yellow. The soil becomes waterlogged which creates a soggy condition.
The jade plant should be repotted immediately in dry, aerated, and well-draining soil, and the damaged roots should be cut back.
Only water it when the top 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) of soil is dry to touch.
Why Are the Leaves Turning Red?
Your poor jade plant is sunburnt. Excessive exposure to direct sunlight will scorch its leaves causing them to become red, just like when some people become sunburnt.
All you need to do is find a new position for the houseplant where it’ll get indirect light.
Your jade plant may also be lacking in nutrients. Simply, fertilize it every 2 weeks until the redness stops spreading. Once it has all the nutrients needed, then continue feeding it every month during its active growing seasons, and every 3 to 4 months during the winter and autumn months.
A Final Note
The jade plant is a great houseplant, it’s easy to grow and care for, and may even bring you some luck.
Always remember to check that the topsoil is dry before watering it again, and make sure that the potting mix allows for excellent drainage. If you show this money tree some TLC and indirect sunshine, you may not receive ample amounts of money, but you can expect beautiful blooms every winter.